A baffling misunderstanding of trade waivers has left the Twins with a lot of explaining to do and a hole in their lineup, as Justin Morneau is winging his way across the Atlantic Ocean as part of a high-stakes US diplomatic mission.
"We have to be better, and it starts with me," said Twins GM Terry Ryan. "We screwed up, there's no getting around it."
Morneau, the former American League MVP, passed unclaimed through trade waivers this week, meaning the Twins could ship him to any willing trade partner in either league. This is where things get a little sketchy.
It is assumed that some sort of deal was struck, leading to the first baseman being at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday night. Then, through a series of events that are still shrouded in mystery, Morneau ended up on a plane headed to Damascus.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed that Morneau was on the flight, which was carrying a team of diplomats to hot spots in the Middle East and Asia. "The sensitivity of the mission means that there's only so much information we can divulge, but we can say that we hope he can hit a 'grand slam' of peace and prosperity for the US, his native Canada and all friends of democracy."
Another government source who asked not to be named said Morneau would most likely be asked to "sign autographs, have a catch with local youths, and answer any questions about hockey or Anne Murray that may come up."
As for the Twins, they were still grasping for answers as to how this could have happened.
"It beats the hell out of me," said manager Ron Gardenhire when asked about the mix-up. "But I can tell you we're really going to miss having a pro like Morny in the clubhouse. You can't just replace that kind of leadership."
This is the second time in three years that the club has sent a player to the wrong destination. In 2011, former Twins GM Bill Smith accidentally outrighted Twins outfield prospect Brian Dinkelman into the far reaches of our galaxy. Smith could not be reached for comment, while Dinkelman is still expected back from the cold, unending void of space when pitchers and catchers report in 2041.